New Christmas Books

New Christmas Books 2014Last year I wrote about the Christmas and Advent books I was reading with my children, and my plans to continue adding to our collection. I wanted to get to the point where we could do a literary advent and wrap 24 books, to open and read one a day.

Thanks to looking for used books throughout the year, and a handful of new purchases this month, we’ve got enough books – now I just need to wrap them!

We’ll still use most of the books from last year (and that “baby” mentioned then? That’s H, who was 2 at the time. I wrote that post just before finding out I was having another baby, so those board books I anticipated would soon be dropped from the rotation will be sticking around a few more years. 🙂

Some of the books we’ll be adding to our reading this year that I’m most excited about:

The Jolly Christmas PostmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg by Janet & Allen Ahlberg
This one looks like it will be so much fun. It also seems like it might be one that will require a lot of policing. 🙂

1001 Things to Spot at Christmas1001 Things to Spot at Christmas
My kids love these sorts of books, so this might be the first one we unwrap – I can easily imagine them both wanting to look at it day after day.

S Is for Star: A Christmas AlphabetS Is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet (Alphabet Books) by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, illustrated by Pam Carroll by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, illustrated by Pam Carroll
Beautiful illustrations, and there are two levels of text in the book – a simple entry for each letter, and then a sidebar with more details. I like that structure a lot for a wide age range.

Humphrey’s First ChristmasHumphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer by Carol Heyer
Lots of humor, and yet the focus is still on Christ. I think my kids will get a kick out of the camel’s expressions.

I’m really excited to try some of the new-to-us books with my kids this year – last year while we had several that they really enjoyed, a number were just so-so. Hopefully we can continue to develop our collection until it’s filled with nothing but hits. And I know I’ll continue to add books as they get older and can appreciate other titles more. 🙂

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What the Kids are Reading: Christmas and Advent Books

Christmas and Advent Books CollageI’m working on building up our collection of Christmas and Advent books – I’d love to get to a point where I could wrap them for the kids to enjoy one “new” on each day of Advent. We’re not quite there, but I was so late at even pulling them out of storage (thanks to house guests through the first part of the month) that it didn’t really matter. I do have additional books to work into the rotation once my children get somewhat older too, but by the time they’re ready for those I’m sure they’ll be done with some of the board books. Or I’ll be done with reading them. 🙂

And, I’d love to know what book you consider to be must-reads for the season – let me know what we’re missing!

What we’re reading this year:

Board Books:

Christmastime Is HereChristmastime Is Here (Little people books) by Ellen Weiss by Ellen Weiss
One I’d like to retire because of the Santa emphasis (we don’t do Santa in our family), but they like lifting the flaps so much I haven’t done so yet.

Baby’s First NativityBaby's First Nativity (The First Bible Collection) by Muff Singer, illustrated by Peter Stevenson by Muff Singer, illustrated by Peter Stevenson
Will probably be retired at some point once my baby is older, but it’s fine for now.

The Little Drummer BoyThe Little Drummer Boy illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
I’d also like to retire this one from the rotation once I get additional books. It’s not my favorite, although I do really like the illustrations.

BobBob by Sandra Boynton by Sandra Boynton
Totally silly, but in a way that makes us all laugh. While I wouldn’t want all of our books to be like this, I don’t mind a few completely secular ones.

Who is Coming to Our House?Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff by Joseph Slate & illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Still another one that I don’t see lasting that many more years, but it’s cute for now. Some of the rhymes are clunkier than I’d like which is why it’s not one of my favorites.

Tell Me the Christmas StoryTell Me the Christmas Story by Joni Walker by Joni Walker
I think it’s cute, but the kids do not find it that interesting.

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas TreeJesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry, A Star for JesusA Star for Jesus by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry and J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever ToldJ Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gévry
I like her books and their focus on Christ, and the kids like them too. A few of her rhymes are more forced than I’d prefer, but not so much that I look forward to retiring the books.

My Nativity Jigsaw BookMy Nativity Jigsaw Book by Christina Goodings, illustrated by Rebecca Elliott by Christina Goodings, illustrated by Rebecca Elliott
Awesome book for puzzle fans, but not always the easiest one when you have more than one puzzle fan, if you get what I’m saying. Also, the puzzle pieces can be hard to put together, and yet hard to keep together at the same time, so the idea works better than the execution at times. It’s still a huge hit this year. My biggest complaint is that the wise men are shown arriving to see Jesus while he’s still in the manger. That’s so common, but it annoys me.

The Night Before ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by  Christian Birmingham by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham
Our other Santa book, but this is such a classic story I don’t mind it as much.

Picture Books

The Christmas StoryThe Christmas Story by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin
Eloise Wilkin illustrations remind me of my own childhood, so even though I never had this book while growing up, the book still makes me somewhat nostalgic thanks to her familiar artwork.

Christmas in the BarnChristmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Diane Goode by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Diane Goode
Sweet illustrations.

Christmas in the Big WoodsChristmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renee Graef by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Renee Graef
Hopefully whetting my children’s appetites for the full Little House series. 🙂

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian StoryThe Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
So far this one doesn’t do much for my kids, but maybe they’ll appreciate it more next year.

The NativityThe Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas illustrated by Julie Vivas
Love the text – excerpts from the King James Version, but I’m not crazy about the illustrations, specifically how she depicts the angels.

Chapter Books (that we’re reading):

The Jesse TreeThe Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Bee Willey
We’re not actually doing a Jesse Tree this year, but I think we’ll try it next year. I think this book will work well as a part of it if we decide to attempt it.

Chapter Books (waiting to be introduced):

The Best Christmas Pageant EverThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson by Barbara Robinson
I debated reading it to my children this year, but decided that they were more likely to get inspired by the bad example set by the Herdmans, rather than catch the bigger picture message conveyed by the story.

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for AdventJotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide, Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for AdventBartholomew's Passage: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide, and Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for AdventTabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide by Arnold Ytreeide
Had read some good reviews on these, and found a great deal on them, so figured they were worth a shot.

A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens by Charles Dickens
This is probably the one that’ll be waiting the longest to get into our reading routine.

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Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family

Joy to the WorldJoy to the World: Advent Activities for Your FamilyJoy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family by Kathleen Basi by Kathleen M. Basi

(Yes, it’s late for this year, but I’m still going to share about this advent book, because I know I’ve been adding books to my library list / Amazon wishlist for next year, and doubt I’m the only one doing that.)

If you’ve been doing Advent activities for a long time, none of the information in Joy to the World may be eye-opening for you, but I am very new to Advent, and I got a lot out of reading this. I loved her idea of a personalized Advent calender – it’s so obvious, and yet I never thought of it.

Basi is Catholic, and there is definitely a Catholic slant to some of the material, but there was very little that I felt wouldn’t work for my Protestant family. I especially liked her simplified Jesse Tree readings – we’re halfheartedly reading a book about The Jesse TreeThe Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Bee Willey right now, and while in later years I’ll likely prefer that one, for a 4 and 2 year old? Her entries are a lot shorter and keep their attention better.

The book is very short – that’s not a complaint, just a heads-up. It’s actually nice, because it makes it very easy to get through quickly, and not feel like you’re bogged down in millions of details. I really appreciated her way of explaining Advent, and her emphasis on explanations and activities for younger children. If you’ve got older children in your family, the book might not do as much for you. For me though, it was just about perfect for this stage.

Publisher’s Description:
Here’s a treasure trove of exciting ideas that will enable your family to focus anew on preparing for the holy time of Advent and Christmas! With a fresh, lively set of suggestions that will attract young and old alike, Joy to the World will help lay the foundation for long-lasting family memories.

“Joy to the World” takes a three-pronged approach to the season:

The Advent calendar, where daily activities are organized into four categories of Service, Spiritual Growth, “Homebody,” and Pure Fun

The Evening Ritual, incorporating the Advent wreath and the Jesse tree, and featuring simplified Scriptures that young children can readily understand

The “Good Deeds Manger,” which puts the family’s focus on preparing their hearts for the coming of Christ

Book Details

Title: Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your FamilyJoy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family by Kathleen Basi
Author: Kathleen M. Basi
Category: Nonfiction
My Rating: 3.5

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